Sunday, November 27, 2011

Keurig Must Die!

Keurig is evil. They prey upon people's laziness to foist bad, over priced coffee on us. To make it even worse, their k-cups pile up in landfills where what ever comes after humanity will find them and be amazed at how primitive and backwards we were.
It is easy to make good single cups of coffee cheaply and without so much waste. Use a French press or a single cup filter. It tastes better and is better for the planet. As an added bonus, you will be forced to sit back and relax for a few minutes while your coffee brews.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Camping with Bug: The Cape with Freinds

After our successful trial camping trip, we felt confident that the family would have a great time camping with a group. For this outing PB and KP joined us, along with KP's pooch and teenage son, at Nickerson State Park in Brewster, MA.
Our biggest concern was that we would hold them back since Bug's schedule dictates our to a certain degree. Fortunately we all planned for a relaxing weekend without too much activity. We wanted to do some biking, but that was about it.
Biking did present a new challenge since we had not packed up the bikes and the camping gear at the same time. We were pretty sure everything would fit since the trailer is about the same size as the stroller and the bikes are carried on the outside of the car, but still.... As it turned out, things fit even better with the bike trailer because it folds up flatter than the stroller! Also, this time around we didn't need to pack the screen house.
Nickerson is a surprisingly plush campground. The sites were spacious and well buffered. The park was pretty full, despite it being late in the season, but we never felt packed in. The other really nice thing about Nickerson is that it is right on the Mid-Cape bike trail. To make it even better they have bile trails that link the camp sites to the access point for the Mid-Cape trail.
Our big adventurer for the trip was a cruise on the bike trail. The Mid-Cape trail is very nice. It is wide and well maintained. The views were not as pretty as we had hoped, but there were a few classic Cape vistas. The trail was busy for September weekend. There was a charity ride going on which accounted for some of the traffic. The sunny weather accounted for the rest.
We hopped off the trail at Coast Guard Beach and took the side trail down to the water. The trail through the national park was not as nice as the Mid-Cape for a guy pulling a trailer. It was narrow and windy, but fun.
Bug loved the beach. She did pretty well walking on the sand and didn't try to eat too much of the beach. Keeping her out of the waves was a bit of a chore, but her love of the water makes us happy. One funny thing she did was lay down in the sand like it was nap time. There were a few other people napping near by, so she must have decided that was what you do on the beach.
Bug was funny with the KP's little dog. She was very curious, but definitely didn't like it when the dog licked her. There was a little come here; go away dynamic between them.
It was a great weekend. We are truly blessed to have a kid who is flexible and love the outdoors!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Camping with Bug: A Dry Run

H and I planned to do a camping trip with some friends on the Cape this September, so we thought it would be a good idea to do a solo dry run first. We were pretty sure Bug would love camping and that we could figure out how to take care of a baby in the woods. How hard could it be?
We talked about planning a whole lot. We picked a really nice private campground in Carver. We purchased a roof bag so we could fit all of our stuff plus all of Bug's stuff. We purchased a two burner camp stove and fuel. We thought about getting everything organized before hand.
Sunday night we finally started getting things out of storage. We pulled the tent and sleeping stuff out of the attic. We dragged the kitchen stuff out of the basement.
Monday morning, just before I started packing stuff into the car, we started packing clothes. Packing my clothes takes a minute; the hardest part is counting out enough pairs of clean boxers. Packing Bug's clothes takes forever; it amazes me how much stuff a baby needs for two days of semi-roughing it.
Surprisingly, packing the car was easy. I expected it to be a challenge since I was using the roof bag for the first time and I had to pack a bunch of extra stuff - a pack-and-play, a stroller, a car seat, a diaper bag, etc.. The fact that most of the gear is rectangular helped a lot. The miracle was that everything fit - barely.
The challenge of camping with a small child were obvious the moment we started to set up camp. Usually both H and I go about setting things up. I get the tent up while she gets the kitchen area set up. This time, one of us had to monitor Bug. H and Bug went off to explore while I set up the tent and the screen house.
The screen house was an exercise in frustration. We haven't used the thing in two years, so I forgot the exact sequence to erect it. I did remember enough to think it would be easy. The first thing I forgot was that setting it up is a two person job. Then I forgot that the top poles had to go through sleeves. Then I forgot that the top poles need to go through a set of loops. I took it apart three times before I got it up. It was worth it though, the mosquitoes were fierce.
Once we got the camp site set up, things were smooth. Bug loved being able to explore. One of us could cook, or relax, while the other one followed Bug. For a new walker, she did really well on the rough terrain. The falls were infrequent. When she did fall, she just brushed herself off and kept going.
Bedtime was not smooth. Bug has a pop-up tent that she loves to hangout in at home. We figured that it would be the perfect camping Bug bed. It fit inside our tent and would keep her contained. Bug had different ideas. When it came time to curl up in her tent, she refused to go in. It amazes me how strong a wee girl can be when she does not want to do something.
Defeated, we put the tent away and replaced it with the floor of the pack-and-play. It kept her off the floor of the tent and provide her with a little padding. It worked better. Bug settled in, after an hour of fidgeting.
The second day was pretty routine. We spent the morning hanging about the camp site. Bug wandered around playing with everything she could get her hands on. We ate lunch and napped.
The afternoon was a big adventure. We went into Plymouth to visit with one of H's friends. We met at the big water park by the sea. It is a great place. Bug loved it. She went from fountain to fountain grabbing the water streams. Then she hit the playground.
By the end of the visit, she was pooped. H and I decided Bug could nap in the stroller and we explored Plymouth. Then we had a fabulous dinner at Cabby Shack. The food was great and the atmosphere was extremely kid friendly.
Packing up on the final morning presented the same problem as unpacking. We were used to it being a two person job, but one of us had to be on full time bug watch. It wasn't too bad since most of our gear is manageable by one person. It just takes more time.
Our initial camping trip with bug was a success. We all enjoyed ourselves and we learned a few lessons. The biggest one was that camping with a wee lass requires a little more time.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Paddling with My Sweety

H wanted to get at least one more couples paddle in before the season ended, so we took advantage of the nice weather and day care to make it happen. We invited along good friends. She picked an area where we could do something interesting, but not too crazy - Wickford.
We paddled from Wilson Park to Rome Point and back under clear skies. It was unremarkable - if you can call a relaxing and enjoyable day on the water unremarkable.
One crazy thing we did encounter were these crazy crab-like larval things floating in the water. They were everywhere and covered the water in a thin layer of goo. The things would get stuck on my arms and hands as a paddled. It was creepy! I still have no clue what they were, so info in the comments would be a great help.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Breaking the Week Up

I feel like I haven't done much paddling this summer. H thinks that I'm wrong and that I have managed to get out close to once a week. If I counted, I'm sure she is right, but that doesn't make me wrong - it's a perception thing. I'm used to going out on regularly scheduled paddles on the weekends, with a few midweek trips tossed in as a bonus.ays
This summer, it has been close to impossible to get a weekend paddle into the schedule. So, I have been "making due" with the midweek paddles when I can. In many ways a midweek paddle is more relaxing and fun than a weekend paddle. There is less boat traffic and the group is usually pretty well tailored to my preferences.
This week's adventure was a trip out of Pier 5 with TM. Originally, I was thinking about doing the full Pier 5 to Harbor of Refuge run. However, I just wasn't feeling up to committing to it. We followed the same course, but without the pressure of getting there.
The water was clam and the winds were light. It was as near to perfect weather as I'd seen all summer. We just ambled along the coast playing in the rocks and generally enjoying the day.
This section of the coast always has some action since it is exposed to open ocean, so things were not boring. Landing was exciting. We decided to lunch just before Point Judith light on the steepish, pebbly beach. TM thought he found a spot where the waves would let us simply land without issue. Instead he spent several minutes getting bounced off the beach before he could get out. Then he had to help me land. We simplified the launch by playing seal. We pointed our kayaks off the steep end of the beach and slid down into the oncoming swell.
We ended the day with some rolling, PFD floating, and Java Madness. It was just what I needed to recharge the battery. Now if I could just get a weekend free.......

Friday, July 29, 2011

It's All About the Bike

I picked up this book based on a recommendation from a friend and a review from a trusted magazine. If you are remotely interested in bicycles, it is a must read. It packs the history of cycling and a good amount of technical information into a shortish and fun to read package.
Penn uses his quest to get a custom built bicycle as the backdrop for unravelling the story of the bicycle and its special place in the world. For the history buff it is an interesting lens through which to see the changes that have taken place over the last 150 years. As Penn points out, the bicycle was a leading edge of many of the changes in the early 20th century. It made the populace more mobile, it helped liberate women, it provided a healthy past time, and was a huge employer.
For the bicycle buff the book is an even vaster treasure trove. It has some technical details. It tells the stories behind some of the biggest innovations in bicycling. It validates the special place a bicycle holds in your heart.
For the rest of the world, it is just full of great stories and good writing. Hopefully, it is also full of inspiration to hop on a bicycle!

Saturday, July 09, 2011

It's Raining Men

The weekend schedule looked perfect for a Saturday paddle and terrible for a Sunday paddle. Unfortunately, the club paddle was scheduled for Sunday. There is no reason the club cannot support two paddles in a weekend; plenty of people paddle both days on the weekend. So I posted a Saturday paddle.
When Friday rolled around, it became obvious that my grand plan was poorly conceived. The reason Saturday looked so good for paddling was that H was going to a party in RI for one of her friends. My plan had the party starting at like noon so that she wouldn't have to hang around too much before heading over and wouldn't mind leaving around four to fetch me. Reality had the party starting around 2pm. My plan had me not needing to attend the party. Reality had me listed as a required guest. There was also all the logistics involved with packing up bug for a full day away from home.
I considered not showing up for the paddle. H considered coming down for the day. Then we hit upon the middle path: Two cars! I would go down in the morning and paddle. H and bug would go to the party after the morning nap. When I got off the water, I would go to the party. Everybody wins!
The paddle was well attended. I expected that only TM, PB, and KP would show. However, CMO and JS also showed. At the put in everyone looked to me for a plan since I had posted the trip.... How easily everyone forgets that I am not a planner or a details person. My plan was simply to paddle for a while and be back to the put in by 2:30 or 3.
I struggled to come up with a more detailed plan and I decided on a reverse outer west passage. We would south paddle along the Narragansett coast to Whale Rock, or there about, cross over to Jamestown, and paddle north along the Jamestown coast. The conditions were forecasted to be benign: calm sea state and minimal winds. All in all, I figured it would be relaxing way to get some distance under the blades. Then I saw PB pack his helmet...
The paddle was exactly what I'd hoped for: long and relaxing. The conditions offered little in the way of challenge or chances to find trouble. We all paddled and chatted and watched as men fell from the sky and disappeared into the sea.
At regular intervals a large military plane would glide down the coast and circle just past Pier 5. Then it would drop four people into the sky. The people drifted down into the water and disappeared.
The crossing to Jamestown was interesting from a group management perspective. PB and KP, who had just returned from a cycling trip in Europe, were getting tired and decided to cross before Whale Rock. They are both smart paddlers and paddle together a lot, so I was comfortable with their decision. Besides they would remain within sight of the main group the whole time anyways.
Once the main group started crossing JS spotted a bunch of birds in the distance and wanted to check if the fishing would be good. So he also peeled off from the main body of the group. I was less comfortable with this decision since JS was heading into open water alone, but he is an experienced paddler and capable of making decisions for himself. Besides, his decision out him at risk without compromising the safety of the rest of the group. We were a strong triad seasoned salt dogs.
Part of me felt that allowing the group to split was an unwise decision. I could have been more forceful about keeping us all in a single pod. The other part of me felt that it wasn't my place to tell people on a show and go paddle what to do. Everyone on the trip was experienced and intelligent. They knew the pros and cons of their actions. If at any time, I felt that anyone's decision put the others at risk, I would have said something. Since that was not the case se la vie.
After lunch, we all paddled home along the Jamestown shore. There was some rock play and a lot of clear blue water paddling: perfect.
When we got back to the put in, I had to run to make the party. I didn't get to go to Java Madness, but I did get to go hang out with my best girls! Everyone really did win!

Thursday, July 07, 2011

mark tozer's blog: Leaders...Born Of Nature or Practice?

mark tozer's blog: Leaders...Born Of Nature or Practice?: "Leaders, born or made? Scholar Richard Arvey found that among twins, leadership is 30 percent genetic/born and 70 percent learned/enviro..."

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Mental Health Day

Being the parent of a one year old is awesome, but stressful. H and I don't get many chances to paddle and even fewer chances to paddle together. So, we decided to take advantage of the nice weather and bug's day at daycare. H organized a hooky day paddle with some of our favorite playmates!
This paddle was H's first day on the water since Bug's arrival, so we decided to take it slow. The day was calm and forecasted to stay that way, so we decided to do a mini outer west passage route. We figured it would be flat and relaxing.
The crossing from Bay Campus to Dutch Island was a nice warm up. The paddle along Jamestown past Ft. Getty was continued the relaxed conditions.
Just past Ft. Getty, the conditions got a little lively. We're talking anthills, but it was more than we expected. It was actually kind of nice to have some bumps. I find paddling on glass boring and tiring. This was perfect for paddling and chatting.
About halfway down the Jamestown coast we turned and crossed the Bay. Our lunch spot was the standard outer west passage lunch area. The highlight of the crossing was watching a helicopter land at one of the mansions south of Bonnet Shores and pick up a passenger.
Our lunch spot was occupied by one of the beach's owners. Being anarchistic socialist kayakers we landed anyways. Beaches cannot be owned (at least not below the high tide line). Always the diplomat, H did "ask" the lady if it was OK for us to use a remote corner of the space for lunch. We behaved ourselves.
After lunch, we headed home along the bluffs. A few of us decided to brave the rocky shore despite our lack of helmets. The biggest wave was barely tape height; what could possibly go wrong?
A rouge wave pushed BH into the rocks. He rode it like a champ, but in the end he wound up out of the kayak and standing knee deep in the water. RS and I decided we were not going to rush in and try to pull BH and his kayak off the rocks. We didn't have helmets, the wave patterns were unpredictable, and BH seemed to have his wits about him. We yelled for him to push his kayak out. Before he could comply TM dashed in to the rocks and did the rescue.
When we talked later, he said he thought that BH looked like he was a little shaky and he was confident that he could pull off the rescue without any risk to himself. Things worked out for the best and BH was put back into his kayak without further incident.
For the remainder of the paddle, we stayed well off shore. The rest of the trip was a relaxing finale to a relaxing paddle.
H and I had plenty of time to get cleaned up, drive home, and retrieve bug. She had a fun day with her buds and we had a good day with ours.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Wilderness First Aid

Several trip leaders took the SOLO Wilderness First Aid class through Osprey Sea Kayak Adventures. We figured that if there was an emergency on a trip a few of people should have a clue.
The biggest difference between wilderness first aid and standard first aid is the distance between the victim and real medical care. the standard first aid protocols are established around the premise that an ambulance, with highly trained paramedics, tons of equipment, and a radio link to doctors, is a phone call away and can be on scene quickly. In wilderness first aid, the assumption is that an ambulance is at least an hour away and likely cannot get within a mile of the victim's location.
This difference changes the basic dynamics of how to best assist the injured party. In a standard first aid situation, you would do a just enough of an assessment to call for help and then wait for help to arrive. If the injury was bad enough, say choking, heart failure, respiratory distress, you may intervene. In wilderness first aid, you need to do a much more thorough assessment, figure out if outside help is required, and how to treat the injuries while waiting for help to arrive. You also need to determine how to get outside help if it is needed: Can you radio or phone for assistance? Who do you send out? Does the patient need to be moved to a more accessible location?
We covered a lot of ground in two days and ran many scenarios. The first day focused on the basics of patient and situational assessment and patient movement.
In wilderness situations, particularly the types encountered in kayaking, accidents do not happen in places where you can safely manage a patient. An injured person can easily drown if they get a mouthful of water. Because of this, a patient will probably need to be moved to a safe location before anything else can happen. Moving a victim goes against everything in standard first aid, but if a person is injured in the surf zone on the beach they need to be moved. It is not safe for the victim and it not safe for the rescuers. (The most important person in any emergency situation is the rescuers, not the victim.) We were shown a technique called BEAMing. Essentially it means moving the injured person while keeping them immobilized. The general rule is no less than three, no more than six. One person manages the head and spine. The person at the head runs the show. Then as a unit, the group moves the patient to a safe location.
Once the patient is in a safe location, you need to asses the patient's condition. First you need to check for critical issues: attention, breath, circulation, da spine, environment. As you go through the checklist, you annotate move to the next step only after the previous one is cleared. If the patient's airway is compromised, you need to fix that before worrying about the bleeding or if the patient is cold.
Once the critical checklist is cleared, you can move on to a more detailed patient assessment. The detailed assessment should provide enough information for you to start treating the patient and provide revue personnel the information needed to mount a proper rescue. It should include vital signs, pertinent patient history, details of how the accident happened, the condition of the group as a whole, and what you are doing to treat the patient. This should all be written down and sent out with the people getting help. You should also keep a copy with the patient. The patient copy should be updated while waiting for rescue.
We also covered how to deal with injuries and common conditions. Most of this was stuff that outdoor enthusiast already sort of know, but can always be reinforced. I don't think you can ever be reminded how to identify and treat hypothermia, dehydration, or hyperthermia enough.
It was a lot of information to absorb. It was also humbling to know how hard doing this was in a safe, controlled environment. Having taken the course, I fell better about my ability to handle myself in an emergency. However, I also know that I'll probably make a ton of mistakes. At least, I'll be able to do something which is better than doing nothing.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Evening paddle

PB had a great idea for our wilderness first aid weekend: a post class paddle. The weather was going to be perfect and we'd have plenty of light.
It was perfect. I hadn't been on the water in what felt like forever, so an easy paddle was just thing for me.
We arrived at Gooseberry Point just after five. The sky was clear and starting to cool. The wind was quiet. The low sun cast gentle light over the beach and water.
JS was keen to find some surf action if he could, so we headed west to see what Horseneck beach had for surf. Once we rounded the point we found an area that looked promising for catching a few rides. PB and JS tried to catch a few rides. I gave it a few half-hearted attempts, but really just wanted to enjoy the time on the water.
All to soon, the sun started setting and we had to turn home. As we paddled back to the beach, the sun cast a gold tinged crimson glow on the bottom of the clouds. It was extraordinary.
The paddle was so relaxing, that even the mean park ranger shooing out of the lot couldn't sour my mood.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Gearing Up

I love my Tricross single speed. Not worrying about shifting and the silence of the drive train are magical. The only trouble with a single speed is that you need to be in good enough shape to complete your ride in the bike's gear. It was becoming obvious to me that I was not in good enough shape to complete my commute to and from work in the bike's gear. It was also obvious that I was not going to be able to get into good enough shape if I kept trying to do it on the single speed.
I needed gears.
I have an old geared bike, but I just don't like riding it. The drive train is twitchy and the aluminum frame rattles my bones over the smallest bumps. I could have done some upgrading by putting better components into the drive train and getting a carbon fork, but that seemed like a lot of money to put into a cheap bike.
So I decided to buy a new bike. I knew what I wanted: my single speed with gears. I considered putting an internally geared hub on the single speed, but there are no shifter choices for drop bars. I wasn't really prepared to spend the money needed to switch to straight bars. Nor was I convinced that I wanted to ride on straight bars.
Then I saw that my local bike shop had a new Tricross Comp in stock. It is the same frame as my single speed, but with a Shimano 105 drive train. I figured I'd give it a test ride and see if it felt right. While I was there I also tried out a few other cross bikes, just to make sure.
Two of the other bikes that I tried had SRAM components, but I really didn't like the double tap shifting. Remembering that one tap did something and two taps did something else and a long tap did a third thing just wasn't working for me. The other bikes were also more traditional cross racing frames and felt twitchy.
The Tricross' shudders are easy to understand and smooth as butter to shift. The geometry is nice as well. It is a slightly relaxed cross racing geometry. It is a little longer and more stable which is what I was looking for in a commuting bike. The Triccross frame also is fender and rack ready. O e other nice feature of the Tricross is the triple from ring. The granny gears come in handy on the big hill between the bike path and home after a long day at work.
After two weeks and 200 miles on the bike, I am very happy with the upgrade. It really is just like riding the single speed, but with gears. I thought that I would be bothered by needing to constantly think about the gears and the clicking of the cassette. Instead I find that I appreciate the gears because I can commute to work in a reasonable amount of time without nearly killing myself.
In fact, I hardly even think about the gears. I just tap the lever when I feel like I'm struggling. The click of the cassette is a pleasant chant reminding me that all is well. Good gears are great.

Chariot Courgar

H and I wanted a way to take Bug biking with us, so we needed a baby carrier for our bikes. We both liked the idea of a trailer better than a child seat. The trailer seems safer because it is lower to the ground and has a built in roll cage. Having a child carrier on the back of a bike (I cannot even imagine that the front mounted seats are safe) changes the balance of the bike and means the baby falls the same distance to the ground.
I did a bunch of research to see if my bias was wrong. The bike mounted carriers are generally cost less than the trailers. It turns out that there are a lot of conflicting opinions, but no hard facts. There is no statistical evidence that either the trailer or the bike mounted carrier is safer. Carrier people like having the child close to them so they interact with the child and feel that the risk of a trailer getting hit by a car is worth the danger of the child falling. Trailer people think the trailers are safer because they are less likely to flip and the child is better protected in any accident.
Since there was no hard evidence, we decided to go with a trailer. Then we had to find the right trailer. There are a wide range of trailers on the market and a correspondingly wide range of prices. We quickly ruled out the low end trailers. Some just looked cheap others didn't get good reviews. Bug's safety and comfort is worth going up a notch.
The two big names in trailers are Burley and Chariot. I looked at both and read a ton of reviews. The prices were comparable as were most of the features. From my reading, the Chariot trailers seemed to be a notch better. The Chariot's also had a few spiffy features the Burley did not: adjustable spring suspension, easy store trailer arm, and a ton of conversion kits.
We opted to get the mid-level Chariot, the Cougar. It was not cheap, but it seems worth it so far. It is well constructed. The cockpit is well ventilated and the integrated screen and rain cover is easy to use. The strap system is well padded and easy to use. One nice feature is that the back has a pocket so that the back of the child's helmet doesn't push against the back panel.
The trailer also has a ton of storage. There is a good sized trunk and a big mesh pocket on the back.
We've taken it out once, and it performed admirably. The hitch is a simple ball hitch that hooks up without any trouble. When in motion it rolls along smoothly. You can tell there is some weight behind you, but it is not too bad. Getting used to the wider turn radius was a little difficult.
Bug seemed to enjoy the ride. She chatted away one the way out and fell asleep on the way home.
The best part was that we had a stroller to push around in between bike riding stints. We had ridden into Lexington to do a bit of shopping, so having a stroller was key.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Baby Backpacking with Kelty

H's cousin gave us a used Kelty Journey when bug entered the scene. Until recently, we'd been using either a stroller or carrying bug in a Baby Borne when we'd go on walks. Then I pulled the Kelty out of the basement because the Baby Borne was wrecking my old, chair conditioned back.
The Journey looks like a serious back pack with the storage compartment converted into a chair. We didn't have instructions, so figuring the harness system out was a challenge. Once you figure the straps out it makes perfect sense and they keep the passenger snug, but comfortable.
With the technical hurdles overcome, the real challenge was seeing how bug, and I, did on an actual walk... We started small with a walk around the neighborhood. Bug liked it a lot. She was able to see stuff and move around a little better. My back liked the Kelty much better than the Baby Borne. The weight is well distributed.
We've taken out two more times since then. We did a 5k charity walk that was most fun. Today we did a short hike that was marred by mosquitoes. On both occasions the Kelty did excellent. Bug likes hanging out in it and my back is much happier!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Narrow River

I was beginning to wonder if I'd ever get on the water this year. Between weather and family, it seemed like there was never time. This weekend the stars aligned and I was able to get out for a paddle.
The Narrow River is not an exciting or challenging paddle, but it is a good way to start the season. It is long enough to get some good work on the forward stroke and a chance to practice some boat control. It is also a nice paddle for catching up with people.
It was a nice day on water and bodes well for the rest of the season.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Getting Older

Last month H, K, and I visited my Mom in FL and my Mom was commenting on how she couldn't believe that her baby was turning 35 and that she was turning 65. It was a simple comment that sent my brain spinning in dark circles.
"Oh my god, when K graduates from college I'll be 65! Will I live that long? Will I be healthy enough to teach her to enjoy the outside as much as I do? I cannot believe all the stupid, unhealthy shit I did. My lord, I'm a walking poster child for unhealthy lifestyles what with all the TV I watch and my general winter sloth........ Not to mention the fact that I sit at a desk all day...."
In case you didn't know, I am a bit of a catastophist and a little anxiety riddled and a bit of a hypochondriac. The calm, Zen-like exterior is just a thin facade.
In the face of this spiraling descent in to anxiety induced paralysis, I decided (with a lot of help from the ever patient H) that the only thing to do was commit myself to staying healthy and enjoy life for what it is.
One other thing about me is that I am not really able to ease into to things. There are really only two states: on or off. So, I went all in. I created a plan to start bike commuting to work and lose weight and eat right like I was in my twenties. Sadly, my body is in its forties.
It takes more than two weeks to build up the cardio fitness to push a single speed thirteen miles over some reasonably hilly terrain. It takes more than a day to recover from pushing my body too hard. Weight does not melt off at light speed. Eating habits that have built up over a life time get pretty entrenched.
It is hard to have the fact of your mortality dragged into the daylight. I think most of us tend to keep it in a dark place where we don't have to think about much and that is a good thing. Thinking about it is terrifying.
So, I'm not a kid any more and I have a long term responsibility. I also have a lot of things I want to do on this mortal plane. I will keep working on getting and staying in shape. I will be more cognizant of what I eat. Most importantly I'm putting the fact of my mortality in a box among the other crap in my closet. Life is too precious to waste time thinking about it ending.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Busting out the Bicycle

Spring is in the air, and I wanted to get outside. I put the cycle tube on the egg and brought the bike into work for a lunch time ride. So what if the temperature was only in the 40s. I brought a plenty of warm clothes into work with me. I was pretty excited.
I was also pretty terrified. Knowing that I spent the previous week in pain from a few hours in the pool, I was pretty sure that any time on the bike would result in pain. I also wasn't sure my cardio-vascular system was in any shape to get beyond the parking lot.
I layered myself in long johns and fleece and saddled up. I have a short route near work that is about three or four miles long that I planned on riding. It is long enough to feel like a bike ride, but short enough that I can walk back to work if I'm dying. On a good day I can rattle the ride off in about 20 minutes, so I was figuring it would take about 40 minutes today.
My estimate was pretty close. It took about 35 minutes. By the end I was winded and my legs knew they had been worked. The one hill on the ride, which is short and not very steep, was challenging. It didn't, however, require standing or make me consider walking.
All in all it was a good first ride. I figure after a day of rest, I'll do it again (if the weather holds). Who knows, by the time May rolls around I could be in good enough shape to ride into work or pull bug around in a bike trailer for family outings.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Forgetting Things and Keeping It Together

So today was the second of my warm up pool sessions. I had high hopes for the morning. My stiffness from the previous session wore off around mid-day Thursday, so I was feeling fine. My old brain had managed to cloud over the memories of the extended hobbling around at work.
Saturday night I packed my gear in the back of the egg. I made sure to bring a long one of the mighty sticks. I secured the Q-Boat to the roof. I packed a bag with swim gear and left it by the door. Before I went to bed, I had everything ready to go in the morning.
This morning, I got up and helped H get bug going. I ate a bowl of cereal and made coffee. I was out the door with plenty of time for a leisurely drive to the pool. I arrived with plenty of time to get ready. We got the kayaks and the gear into the pool. Then I went to get my swim trunks on.
The bag of swim gear was not in my car. A quick call to H confirmed that the bag was still next to the door. It also revealed that there was a Kohls ten minutes from the pool. (H is a Kohls aficionado.)
A quick dash to Kohls secured me new swim gear (at a great savings). I was in the pool with plenty of time to practice.
The practice was great. I felt good right off the bat. It may have been the stick. I attributed it to the stick at least. It may have just been that kayaking is like bicycling. You never really forget.
Hopefully, I won't suffer quite as long this week......

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Getting Back in the Saddle

Sunday I did one of the RICKA pool sessions. It was the first time I'd been in a kayak for months. This winter was bad for kayaking. It seemed like every weekend was either bad weather or busy personally. Of course, I didn't get on the bike either....
The beginning of the session was humbling. I decided I start out doing a re-enter and roll. Oh, I also left the mighty stick at home so I was using my back-up Lendal. Ah, bravado. It is painful thing. It took me many tries, and lots of swallowed pool water and bruised thighs, to get in the kayak. I refused to give up and did finally do the re-enter and roll.
Once in the kayak I was nearly spent. I took plenty of time pumping the water out of the kayak and recovering. TM was there to remind me to take it slow and let my body reacclimate to the kayak.
Once I started paddling around and practicing some braces, I started feeling at home. Kayaking is like riding a bike. Slowly, but surely, my sea legs came back. My turns got sharper and my roll more confident. By the end of the two hour session, I almost felt like a kayaker again.
I expected to be tired and sore Sunday afternoon, but I felt surprisingly good. It was Monday that the soreness settled in. I woke up with a little soreness in my core, but it was pretty mild. As the day wore on, the soreness spread to my shoulders and thighs. By the end of the day I was walking like something out of a Romero film.
Today, Tuesday, was only marginally better. I'm still stiff and sore. My walk is more of a shamble than a shuffle today. That is an improvement.
The moral of the story: the skills recover fast, the body does not. At 40+, I need to stay active through out the year or resign myself to being a couch potato.

Friday, January 14, 2011


I recently read an article by one of those magazine shrinks that said that the important part about new years resolutions isn't keeping them; it's making them that matters. The process of making resolutions forces you to imagine how you would like your life to be different and imagine actions you can take to make the dream real. The more specific the resolutions the better.
Since it is that time of year, I'm going to take the article to heart and make three specific resolutions; one for work, one for family, and one for me.
For work I resolve to work as part of a team that accepts nothing short of excellent. Far to often we settle for doing the minimum because of resource constraints or we accept crappy user interfaces because the developers know best. This year I resolve that I will strive to do what is needed to provide the maximum benefit for the end user. I will not simply accept good enough. I will not sit idly by when a developer creates a bad UI or tries to slip a buggy feature into a release because it is good enough or there isn't enough time to fix it.
At home I resolve to do more around the house. I have a bad habit of putting off washing the dinner dishes until H just does them. I also tend to let laundry sit without being folded. In the warmer months I'm not great at keeping up with the yard work. This year I will be better about getting this stuff done.
For myself I resolve to take better care of myself. This includes flossing every night, doing something active at least three times a week, and eating better. I'll think twice before stopping at the McDonalds for a super size Big Mac meal. I'll actually order non-fat lattes. I'll eat more veggies. I'll actually start using the gym at work.
I want to be around for Kenzie for as long as possible. I also want to be a good role model for her. I want her to grow up seeing her dad living a healthy lifestyle, treating his partner with love and respect, and striving to be the best the he can be.
I know I'll fall short of these resolutions, but I will try to get closer to living my life according to them.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Best Paddle of 2010

It is the time of year where I reflect back on all of the kayaking from last season and randomly pick one paddle to call the best of the year.
2010 was a slow kayaking year for me because of major life events. The year started off with a bang and I got to spend three days paddling with Sea Kayaking luminaries at the Rough Water Symposium. It was a good time and I got some great exposure to rough water stick paddling.
There were also some nice relaxing summer paddles that rejuvenated the spirit.
The best "paddle" of this year for me was the birth of Kenzie. It was a grand adventure that tested our emotional metal. The following six months have been a wild ride as well. I know it will keep changing and getting better.